Live at The Constellation Room

April 21, 2023, Review by Jason Roberts
Reggae punk band Bumpin’ Uglies returned to the OC for a sold-out show in the Constellation Room at The Observatory in Santa Ana. The Maryland band has been crossing the country in support of their latest album, “Mid-Atlantic Dub.” The album features some talented guest artists including Ballyhoo!, The Elovaters, Little Stranger, Jacob Hemphill of SOJA, Trevor Young, Wax and Tropidelic.
Bumpin’ Uglies formed in 2008 and boasts Brandon Hardesty on vocals and guitar, Dave “Wolfie” Wolf on bass, T.J. Haslett behind the drums, Ethan Lee Lichtenberger on keys, and Will Lopez on sax. With their mix of ska, reggae, and punk, fans have gone crazy for their singles “Addictive Personality,” “Morning After,” “Buzz,” and “Suburbia.”

Ventura singer songwriter Kyle Smith opened the show, and despite being under the weather the previous day, his energy was through the roof! Smith’s catchy reggae style engaged the crowd right off the bat when he started his set with “On My Way.” The crowd was enjoying dancing along and when Smith found out a young man was there for his first-ever show, he had the audience energetically chant the boy’s name.
Smith did covers from NOFX and The Offspring, plus asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. By request, he performed songs from Pepper and Pennywise, plus threw in some of his originals from his debut album, “Lost Cause.”

One of my favorite moments was when he brought out the sax and trombone players from Bumpin’ Uglies. The crowd was thrilled by the stage addition and gave Smith hearty applause when his time had ended.

When it was time for the headliners to take over, the excitement started to build even more. After the band members appeared and got settled, they greeted the audience and said although they are from “a long way away,” they feel Southern California had started to become their second home.

Front-man Brandon Hardesty mentioned there was a group of loyal fans traveling around California with them and this was their seventh show in a row! As for the band, Hardesty said, “There’s a point in a tour – and it’s about now – where half of the band becomes feral animals.” The band and audience chuckled and dug in for an amazing show.
Bumpin’ Uglies started their set with “Stop the Fall,” which was a high-energy reggae rock song that definitely got the audience dancing. They played through “Snowflake” and “One Foot” before arriving at “Wild Girls,” which has a great build up to the chorus with some reggae rap.

After some more crowd favorites, “Locust Avenue,” “Could’ve Been Great,” “Screens,” and “All In Stride,” they had Smith join them onstage to debut a new song titled “Passion.”

“Crazy” had the trombone and sax players on the bar as the crowd danced to their rhythm. They did “Everything Changes,” “Trouble,” and “Bad Decisions” to wrap their set, but came back for an encore of acoustic songs “Hallucinations,” “Acceptance in F#,” “Dayman,” and “Morning After.” The whole band came back to the stage to do “Fuck It” and close the night out with a bang.
It was a great, high-energy night from beginning to end! If you have the chance to see Bumpin’ Uglies, I highly suggest you do!


by Robert Hale Images



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